2017 MLB Closer Depth Chart: American League West

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Let's head out west for the final early-Spring Training MLB Closer Depth Chart article. The American League West has many intriguing arms, but very few set roles. As Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic move along, there will (hopefully) be more clarity in terms of eighth and ninth inning roles out west, but for now, most AL West bullpens are that cluttered drawer that everyone has in their kitchen. You know there is some good stuff in there, you just don't know how you're going to use it.

Today we are here to discuss the closer depth chart for the AL West, including fantasy baseball items like closers, saves, and holds. To read about the other divisions, just click here.

Here's a look at the back of the bullpen depth charts for the division.

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Houston Astros

Closer: Ken Giles

Volatility Rating: Volatile

Other Relevant RPs: Will Harris, Luke Gregerson

The Houston Astros bullpen is kind of a mess, but it's not really a bad thing. They have three very capable closers in Ken Giles, Will Harris, and Luke Gregerson. All three could close for a big league team right now and do well, however, all three are in the same bullpen so their roles need to be sorted out somehow. Astros manager A.J. Hinch has said that "more often than not" it will be Giles that will be in there for the ninth inning. He also mentioned, though, that he is not married to the idea and that he has no problem mixing and matching. So basically, it seems like Giles is the closer, but he's on the shortest leash imaginable. With a pair of talented bullpen arms behind him, that's not the ideal spot. Still, Giles is dripping with elite closer upside, as he struck out 102 in 65 2/3 innings last season. He did struggle a bit, however, posting a 4.11 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He ended the season as the closer, and saved 15 games in 2016. If he can cement the role, he has a chance to be one of the better fantasy closers around, but there's that pesky short leash to worry about.

Behind Giles, at least for now, are Will Harris and Luke Gregerson who had 12 and 15 saves last season, respectively. Both spent time as the closer for the Astros, and both have a chance to do so again this season depending on how things unfold. For now though, they are both setup men, and can be elite options in holds leagues. Harris posted 28 holds with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP along with 69 strikeouts in 64 innings. Meanwhile, Gregerson's ERA stood at 3.28 with a 0.97 WHIP and 15 holds. He struck out 67 in 57.2 innings. In a SVHD league, any of these three should be excellent options. In a standard league, Giles is the one to target now, but keep an eye on any bullpen noise coming out of Houston.

Fantasy must-own: The Houston Astros Closer (Ken Giles right now, but subject to change)

Worth fantasy consideration: The Houston Astros Setup Men (Will Harris and Luke Gregerson right now, but subject to change- both would be valuable in holds leagues)

 

Los Angeles Angels

Closer: Huston Street

Volatility Rating: Somewhat Volatile

Other Relevant RPs: Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey

Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia has said that Huston Street, Cam Bedrosian, and Andrew Bailey will all compete for the Angels ninth inning job this Spring. Street has had the job over the past few seasons, but he struggled through an injury-plagued season to a 6.45 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings. If Street can stay healthy and pitch even somewhat decently, he figures to be named the closer before the season starts. If this is the case, he is an extremely low-upside closer who should be owned only in deep leagues and AL-only. Andrew Bailey finished up last season as the closer for the Angels, saving 12 games and putting up about a strikeout per inning. Now for the ugly: he had a 5.36 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. Still, he figures to work as a setup man, but shouldn't be on many fantasy rosters.

Finally, Cam Bedrosian is legitimately the most interesting arm in the Los Angeles of Anaheim bullpen. Bedrosian is also part of the "competition" for the closer's role, but despite the fact that he will almost certainly outperform Street in Cactus League play, Bedrosian should start the season in a setup role. He would seem to be next in line for the ninth inning if (when?) Street struggles or gets hurt in the regular season. In 2016, Bedrosian pitched 40 1/3 innings, striking out 51 and posting a 1.12 ERA/1.09 WHIP. He's a great bullpen arm worth a roster spot in holds leagues and worth keeping an eye on in all formats in case he takes over the ninth inning sooner than later.

Fantasy must-own: None (Huston Street in deep leagues and AL-only)

Worth fantasy consideration: Cam Bedrosian (in holds leagues, and as next in line after Street)

 

Oakland Athletics

Closer: Ryan Madson?

Volatility Rating: Extremely Volatile

Other Relevant RPs: Sean Doolittle, Santiago Casilla, John Axford

The Oakland Athletics have four experienced closers in their bullpen in Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, Santiago Casilla, and John Axford. None of them are top-tier elite bullpen options, but all of them have been solid, effective closers very recently. Last season, Madson saved 30 games for the A's, posting a 3.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He struck out only 49 in 64 2/3 innings. He would seem to be the front runner for the 2017 closer's role since he's the incumbent, but manager Bob Melvin has already said that he would like to use multiple options out of the pen this season. He also mentioned that Spring Training performance won't matter much in terms of making bullpen decisions. Basically, this will be a bullpen to avoid in standard leagues. That being said, there is still value to be had out of Oakland in holds leagues.

Sean Doolittle missed a lot of time last season due to a shoulder injury, but was mostly effective when on the mound and has been an excellent closer in the past. In 2016, he put up a 3.23 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP, striking out 45 over 39 innings and securing 10 holds and 4 saves. Santiago Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A's this offseason. The former San Francisco Giants closer saved 31 games in 2016 while pitching to a 3.57 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He struck out over a batter per inning, with 65 Ks in 58 innings. Both Casilla and Doolittle (and even John Axford) could be worth owning in holds leagues, but for now, the A's bullpen remains one of the most confusing in terms of fantasy in the whole league.

Fantasy must-own: None for now

Worth fantasy consideration: Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, Santiago Casilla, John Axford

 

Seattle Mariners

Closer: Edwin Diaz

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Steve Cishek, Nick Vincent

The Seattle Mariners have a closer who was a rookie last season and is already flirting with entering the elite tier. Edwin Diaz saved 18 games in 2016 while posting a 2.79 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Most impressively, he struck out 88 in 51 2/3 innings. Not satisfied with those gaudy numbers, Diaz has reportedly been working on a change up all offseason and in Spring Training. He's a great fantasy option and could work his way up to being among the best.

Behind him in the pecking order lie Nick Vincent and Steve Cishek. Vincent has intriguing upside, as he had an eye-opening 65:15 strikeout to walk ratio across 60 1/3 innings in 2016. He pitched to a 3.73 ERA/1.13 WHIP and is likely to work as the team's primary setup man. He's  a good bet to return nice value in holds leagues. Former closer Steve Cishek is a step behind Vincent and a leap behind Diaz, but he still may have fantasy value this season. He's currently recovering from offseason labrum and micro-fracture surgery, so he's almost certain to start the season on the disabled list. Once he returns though, he should work his way back into a setup role. Last season, he collected 25 saves and posted a 2.81 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP. His 76 strikeouts in 64 innings were nice as well. He should be worthy of a roster spot in holds leagues once he's back on the mound, but the uncertainty around his recovery means he does not need to be drafted before the season begins.

Fantasy must-owns: Edwin Diaz (all formats)

Worth fantasy consideration: Nick Vincent (holds leagues), Steve Cishek (deeper holds leagues)

 

Texas Rangers

Closer: Sam Dyson

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Matt Bush, Jeremy Jeffress

From the untapped upside of Keone Kela to the finally-tapped upside of Matt Bush to solid groundball machine Sam Dyson, the Texas Rangers have an interesting set of arms in their bullpen. Closer Sam Dyson sprained his wrist in a fall and is currently recovering, but his injury is not serious and will not prevent him from pitching in the World Baseball Classic, let alone once the regular season starts. Dyson saved 38 games for the Rangers last season, posting a 2.43 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He only struck out 55 in 70 1/3 innings, but he's always been a groundball machine and not a guy with huge strikeout numbers. This limits his fantasy upside, of course, but he's still a good bet for somewhere around 40 saves and a good ERA.

Matt Bush certainly took an interesting route to get to the Rangers eighth inning last season, but once he got there, he was excellent. He collected 22 holds while posting a 2.48 ERA/0.94 WHIP. His 61:14 strikeout to walk ratio in 61 2/3 innings was excellent as well. The Rangers flirted with the idea of stretching Bush out into a starter, but recently confirmed that he would indeed begin the season in the bullpen. He's a great option in holds leagues. Jeremy Jeffress is also a decent holds league option, as he had a 2.33 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP for the season while saving 27 games before being traded. Similar to Dyson, he's not a huge strikeout guy (42 in 58 innings) so his upside is limited.

Fantasy must-owns: Sam Dyson (all formats)

Worth fantasy consideration: Matt Bush (all holds leagues), Jeremy Jeffress (deeper holds leagues)

 

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